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text 2016-05-26 09:00
@GoddessFish Interview: Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting


Murder at Morningside


A Missy DuBois Mystery, #1


Sandra Bretting


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Lyrical Underground
Date of Publication: May 24, 2016
Number of pages: 190



Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo
Hat designer Missy DuBois opened her shop, Crowning Glory, along Louisiana's Great River Road to cater to the sophisticated Southern bride. But bless her heart, who knew creating stylish wedding veils would lead to murder?

Hired to craft a veil for a socialite getting married at Morningside Plantation means Missy can bask in the height of antebellum atmosphere. But when the bride is found dead in a women's bathroom, Missy the milliner finds herself entangled in one unfashionable murder. With the list of suspects thicker than the sweltering Louisiana heat, including a gaggle of bridesmaids shedding nary a tear and a family with no shortage of enemies, it seems anyone at the mansion may have done away with the bride-to-be. While Missy has Southern charm to spare, she's going to need more than manners and a manicure to put a hat pin on this murderous affair...


Before Beatrice could say more, the front door flew open and in stomped an elderly gentleman. He was on the verge of a good old-fashioned hissy fit.

“Y’all don’t deserve a say in this wedding!” he said to a young woman who’d slunk in behind him.

The girl looked to be the right age for his daughter. She wore flip-flops and a wrinkled peasant blouse, and she buried her head in her hands. Well, that lifted the blouse an inch or two and exposed her bare stomach.

Lorda mercy. It seemed the girl and her fiancé must have eaten supper before they said grace, as we said here in the South, because an unmistakable bump appeared under her top. She looked to be about four months along, give or take a few weeks, and I could see why her daddy wasn’t too happy with her right about now.

After a piece, she lifted her chin and glared at him. “I hate you!” Her voice rippled as cold as the river water that ran nearby. “I wish you were dead.” She stalked away.

I fully expected the man to cringe, or at least follow her. Instead, he merely glanced our way and shrugged. After a minute, he pivoted on the spectacle he’d caused and casually strolled away, leaving a bit of frost in the air.

“Oh my. Why don’t we continue,” Beatrice said.

Poor Beatrice. She obviously wanted to divert our attention elsewhere. It couldn’t have been every day one of her hotel guests wished another guest was dead. She hustled us farther into the ballroom, as if nothing had happened, all the while explaining the history of Morningside Plantation.

Please welcome Sandra Bretting to Musings and Ramblings for a little Author Q&A.

*Offers Sandra Bretting a cup of fresh-squeezed lemonade and a plate of pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream.*

How has your writing career changed in the past year?
Now that I’m writing a series, my day is more structured than ever before. I try to write about four hours a day, six days a week. I may not make it, but that’s the goal! I’m still writing for the Houston Chronicle, too, and that keeps me focused.

From where have your recently drawn writing inspiration?
My best inspiration comes from other writers. Some of the books I’ve read lately have been so darn good. (Hello…I loved The Nightingale so much, I would’ve eaten the pages afterward with whipped cream if I could’ve!)

Great writing can be so inspiring. I may wish like heck I’d written the book, but once I get past the jealousy, I can appreciate the brilliance that went into them. I read a little bit of everything: mainstream, cozies, thrillers. I figure good writing is good writing, no matter what the genre.

Which of the four seasons best suits your personality and why?
I like to think I have a summertime personality. I’m a terrible optimist; I really think the glass is half-full… of champagne. Anything is possible in the summertime. That’s how I like to live my life. I may get burned once or twice, but I’ll have a great time doing it.

Describe your perfect day.
Hmmm… definitely sleeping in a bit. (I married an early riser who gets up at 4 a.m. On purpose.) Then, I’d have breakfast outside on my patio (it’s that summer personality coming through again). Maybe a few hours of writing afterward. But this time it would be effortless writing, where the muse parks herself on my shoulder and the words just flow. Follow that up with a massage, a long nap and some barbecue back on the patio, and Viola! The perfect day.

Which five characters from novels would you like have dinner with?
Ooohhh.. great question. Probably Jay Gatsby, because I’d love to see his house. And Flavia de Luce from Alan Bradley’s series, because she’s so darn spunky. I’d also like to share a meal with Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind, because it’d be fun to hear her say “fiddle-dee-dee” in person. Then, maybe share a meal with Henry DeTamble from The Time Traveler’s Wife, so he could tell me about the places he’s been. Lastly, I’d like to have dinner with Precious Romotswe from The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, because she’s so wise and kind.

Bonus Fun Question:
A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Only two words needed: Global Warming.

Thanks for sharing with us today. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?

Not sure if it’s wise…but I’d like to say “thank you” to everyone who picks up my book, or any book, for that matter. I can’t imagine a world without good books. Thank you for inviting me here today!


Author Bio:

Sandra Bretting works as a freelance feature writer under contract to the Houston Chronicle. She received a journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and wrote for other publications (including the Los Angeles Times and Orange Coast Magazine) before moving to Texas.

Her Missy DuBois Mysteries series debuts from Kensington/Lyrical Underground in May 2016. Bretting’s previous mysteries include Unholy Lies (2012) and Bless the Dying (2014). Readers can reach her online at www.sandrabretting.com and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandra.bretting.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/05/interview-murder-at-morningside-sandra-bretting.html
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text 2016-05-13 09:00
@GoddessFish Promo: Diamond in the Rough by Lori L Robinett (@LoriRobinett)


Diamond in the Rough


Diamond J, #2


Lori L Robinett


Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Publisher: Three Creeks Press
Date of Publication: May 14, 2016
Number of pages: 227



Available at the following retailers:

Pre-Order for just $1.99
Ranch hand Aidan Brackston has built a new life at the Diamond J, and he keeps women at arm’s length to protect his secret... until he walks into the local scrapbook store on an errand for his boss. When he accidentally knocks Gina on her ass, she respond with a slap... and the fireworks begin.

Single mom Gina Montgomery has her hands full running a business and taking care of her little boy. The last thing she needs is a man in her life, but when a tall, dark and sexy cowboy strides into her store, she’s reminded that she’s still a young woman with hopes and desires.

Just as passion ignites between Aidan and Gina, her little boy is kidnapped by rustlers. Will the two of them be able to save her little boy... even if that means exposing Aidan’s secret?


She peeked around the paper rack at the cowboy standing in the front of her store. He was tall, easily six foot. His shoulders were broad, his arms well muscled. A pair of work gloves tucked in his back pockets drew her eyes to his butt. Red dust covered his black cowboy hat, and his boots were scuffed. Yes, yes, yes, she thought, he was a real cowboy.

She scooped up the box of supplies and smiled around the pencil in her teeth. Something dark and fuzzy came into her field of vision, from below, right across the top of the box. Her focus shifted from the cowboy to the thing crawling across the box clutched to her breast.


She screamed. She pitched the box and the contents flew through the air. The spider moved fast across the old linoleum tiles, straight towards her.

She climbed on top of the folding table and squatted there. Its two front legs felt in front of it, as if it were trying to find her.

She was so focused on the spider, she didn’t see the others. Wasn’t even aware that she was not alone in the shop, until she heard Midge’s voice.

“Good grief, stop screaming, would you?”

And she saw him. The cowboy. It took a moment to remember his name. Aidan. That was it. Aidan.

Calm as could be, he walked over, picked up a piece of paper and scooped the spider up. It jerked a bit, then froze. Aidan strode to the front door. Gina stood up on the table and watched as he opened the door, squatted down and tipped the paper. Stunned, she stood and watched. She’d never seen anyone do that before.


Author Bio:

Lori is the author of four books, and serves as a mentor for aspiring writers. She is a creative soul trapped in a paralegal’s body. Several years ago, she discovered (and won) National Novel Writing Month and rediscovered the joy of escaping into a world of her own creation.

She lives in rural Missouri with her husband. One very spoiled Miniature Schnauzer and Miniature Beagle allow Lori and her husband to live in their house, and the outside is patrolled by BK (short for Barn Kitty) and Patches (a sweet tom cat stray that missed his calling as a lap cat).

Her novels cover everything from romance to thrillers, but mystery is the thread that binds them all together. Her favorite authors are Tawna Fenske, Tierney James, Colleen Donnelly, Allison Merritt, Lisa Medley, Lea Waite, Susan Mallery, Hugh Howey, HP Mallory and, well, the list goes on and on.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/05/promo-diamond-in-rough-lori-l-robinett.html
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text 2016-05-10 09:00
@GoddessFish Interview: Violated by Carolyn Arnold (@Carolyn_Arnold)




Brandon Fisher FBI, #5


Carolyn Arnold


Genre: Police Procedural/Thriller
Publisher: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc
Date of Publication: April 28, 2016
Number of pages: 272



Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo
Sometimes the past should stay there...

The murder is one of the most heinous FBI agent and profiler Brandon Fisher has ever seen. But that’s not why he and two members of the team are rushing to California. The Bureau is interested because the prime suspect is one of their own, Paige Dawson.

But Paige didn’t go to Valencia to kill anyone. She had set out on “vacation”--her new lover in tow--only to confront the man who raped her friend twenty-some years ago. While the hands of the law are tied, she wants him to face the fact that he destroyed a young woman’s life and know that, as an FBI agent, she’ll be watching his every move. Yet, instead of accomplishing her goal, she wound up in the back of a police cruiser.

Now Paige must face off with a hard-nosed detective determined to stick a murder charge to a fed. But with the trained eyes of the FBI on the case, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the evidence lends itself to a serial killing, not an isolated incident. And as long as the local authorities are focused on Paige, the real murderer is still out there, possibly waiting to strike again...


Paige blinked the tears from her eyes. It couldn’t be. She wiped her wet eyes, her gaze not leaving the necklace in her hand. The chain was a common style, but the heart pendant and the letter N…

Still, it didn’t mean this one had been Natasha’s…

Paige swallowed. But she remembered when Natasha had realized she’d lost it. She had dropped on the end of the hotel bed as if all the weight of the world were piled on her shoulders. It was the morning after the rape.

Tears now fell freely down Paige’s cheeks. There was no doubt in her mind that the necklace she now held had been Natasha’s.

Paige cried as the past washed over her and continued to do so until rage replaced her sadness.

Somehow, she would make this son of a bitch pay for what he had done. She was past the point of keeping within the shades of the law and would circumvent legal means if that’s what it took to hold him responsible.

She clasped the necklace around her neck. Had Ferris kept it as some sort of sick notch in his bedpost? If so, that showed a psychology to him that confirmed he was a repeat offender. And if that was his mentality, prison wouldn’t have rehabilitated him, and that meant there were likely date-rape drugs here to prove it.

She stormed from the bedroom and toward the bathroom.

Beyond the point of caring anymore if she left her fingerprints behind, she emptied the contents of the medicine cabinet, and his toiletries now filled the sink.


She rushed back to his bedroom and tore it apart. The drugs were here somewhere. A man like Ferris wouldn’t stop raping…

Several minutes passed as she searched, and when she was finished, his bedroom looked like a tornado had struck. But still no pills.

Maybe she was being ridiculous, hoping to find something where there was nothing. And even if she found the drugs, what did she hope to accomplish? While possession of date-rape drugs was illegal, her means of getting them would make them inadmissible in any court. But she couldn’t stop. All she could see was her friend’s body in that casket—the way her face, even in death, showed her tortured existence.

She hurried downstairs to the kitchen. There was no way she was stopping now.

She searched each cupboard and drawer, pulling out items and rooting to the back. She had one place left to look, and as she opened it, she saw that it was a catchall drawer. Stuffed with anything and everything from a meat thermometer, to sandwich bags, to tin foil, to… She pulled out a sleeve of pills. She flipped them and read the stamp on the silver backing. Allergy pills.

She continued working through the contents of the drawer until she reached the last item. It was an Aleve bottle. That was an inconvenient place to keep a pain reliever… She opened it and looked inside. It was only the medication. She was still holding the bottle in her hand when she recalled the one on the counter. She exchanged one for the other, not about to give up. Just because the bottle was labeled one way… She twisted the lid.

Police sirens wailed somewhere nearby, and she paused. Her instinct told her to leave this alone and get out of his house immediately. But it was too late, the whooping sirens were on top of her now, and then the patio door slid open on the other side of the dining room. Two police officers entered the house, guns drawn.

“Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department! Put your hands on your head!”

“What’s—” The strength drained from her legs, and her head spun. She was under arrest?

Oh God. That woman must have called the police.

“I said, put your hands on your head!” the same officer shouted.

Another officer went around behind her, stripped her of her gun, passed it off to the second officer, and proceeded to cuff her. “You have the right to remain silent—”

“This isn’t what it looks like.”

“It looks like you’re ransacking the house of a dead man.”

A dead man?

“I’m an FBI agent. I can explain—”

“You can do that down at the station.”

Please welcome Carolyn Arnold to Musings and Ramblings for a little Author Q&A.

*Offers Carolyn a glass of wine and a plate of chocolates.*

What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
I’d have to say when a manuscript comes back from a professional developmental edit. It can be very challenging to make sure that any revisions not only keep in line with my vision for the book, but also that these don’t mess up the plot in another way.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Just keep writing. Books are written one word at a time. Set a deadline for yourself and calculate how many words you need to write per day and for how long to reach that goal. Also, don’t let yourself get sucked down by discouragement. Remember why you’re writing and for whom.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
The fact that I was able to quit the day job in 2014 and start writing full-time. Needless to say, this was a dream come true and I’m grateful for this privilege every day. I love living my passion and knowing that I’m entertaining people.

Where is your dream vacation and why?
Australia because of the kangaroos and koala bears. ☺

Name your 5 favorite authors.
David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich, Lisa Unger, and Harlen Coben.

Bonus Fun Question:
A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
“Hey, chica, do ya wanna dance?”
During the mambo, he tells me he’s here for the warm weather.

Thanks for sharing with us today. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Live long and prosper… No, sorry, that’s Star Trek.
I say be entertained, live inspired, and only accept awesome into your life.


Author Bio:

CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international best-selling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.™

Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and beagle. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/05/interview-violated-carolyn-arnold.html
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text 2016-05-02 09:00
@GoddessFish Interview & Review: Fortuna by Elaine Cantrell (@elainecantrell)





Elaine Cantrell


Genre: Romantic comedy
Publisher: Clean Reads
Date of Publication: January 27, 2016
Number of pages: 190
Cover Artist: Cora Graphics



Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo
Aimee Sherwood never dreamed that following her fiancé into the witness protection program would land her in a haunted house in a town that’s downright creepy. She’d have laughed if she had been told the guy who lives down the road might be her soul mate, not the man whose ring she’s wearing. Life in West Virginia is nothing like life in Los Angeles, but between bean ball battles with Marilyn Monroe, remodeling a crumbling farmhouse, and starting a new online business, life in the country is anything but boring.


Cade held out his arm to Aimee. “Ma’am, I would be delighted to show you the gazebo. Do take my arm. The ground is rather uneven.”

“Why, thank you, sir.”

As they strolled toward the gazebo, Aimee allowed the setting to mesmerize her and capture her imagination. What would it have been like to attend this party in the year 1860? Would the threat of war have lent a spice of excitement to the festivities that made ordinary activities like visiting the gazebo seem new and romantic?

Cade indicated a built-in bench, which circled the inside of the gazebo. “Would you like to sit down?”

Aimee sat and gathered her skirts around her, admiring the rustle of her long, crinoline petticoat. She patted the space beside her. “Sit beside me.”

Cade bowed. “You honor me, Miss Sherwood.”

“You may call me Miss Aimee, sir.”

“Miss Aimee, then.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

Aimee’s heart took off in a mad gallop. She felt heat rising from her chest and knew it colored her face an inconvenient shade of red. Oh! My! Goodness! All he’d done was kiss her hand, and she was melting. If only she hadn’t left her fan at Miss Gladys’ table.

Cade kept hold of her hand even though she’d expected him to let go of it. His calloused fingers felt so male, so strong, so warm that another wave of heat washed over her and almost took her breath away.

“You look beautiful tonight, Miss Aimee. There’s not a woman at the party who can touch you.”

Was it her imagination or had he moved a bit closer to her?

“Your eyes sparkle like blue diamonds, and I love those curls of yours. You’ve captured the sunshine.” He reached for her ponytail and bounced her curls in the palm of his hand.

Breathe. She mustn’t forget to breathe.


Please welcome Elaine Cantrell to Musings and Ramblings for a little Author Q&A.

*Offers Elaine a cup of coffee and a plate of blueberry scones.*

I can’t thank you enough for featuring Fortuna at your blog. I’m really excited to be here.
*Elaine takes a bite and sighs.* They’re truly delicious.

What prompted you to become a writer?
I think I mostly became a writer because I wanted to read a certain kind of book and couldn’t find it. Have you noticed that the minute a certain book becomes a hit everyone wants to copy that author? Think about the Twilight series. People always liked vampires, but after Twilight EVERYBODY wanted to write vampire novels. I get tired of the same old stuff. Publishers say to be original and write out of the box, but I don’t think they mean it. Everyone is afraid to write something different. It’s amazing when you think about it that there are so many lovely books written each year. I decided I’d write what I wanted to read, and to my surprise a lot of people like my work. LOL. Yes, that surprised me.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Of course! What’s an author without a ritual? Okay, step one: get something to sip on. I really like coffee with real cream, but icy cold water will do too. Step two: Turn off the TV or music and put the dogs outside. Step three: Find my straw. Huh? Find a straw? What’s up with that?

You see I found that before I start writing I need to review what I wrote the day before and think a minute about where I need to go with the new scene. It’s crazy, and I know it, but I can think better if I tap and play with my bendy straw while I’m reading and thinking. My family mocks me, but I’ve noticed them playing with it too when they thought I wasn’t looking.

What are the best and worst jobs you’ve ever had?
The worst job by far was being a grocery store checker. Some of the customers were so rude, but I could take them better than the pitiful people. Some of the folks who came through my line just broke my heart. Besides that, my feet hurt so bad I thought they might break off. Take a guess how long I kept that job? Any takers? It was less than a week. I got a summer job in a factory that made electrical components, and that was a lot better except for the time the little machine I worked on caught on fire.

The best job was teaching. Nothing in this world can compare to helping a child make a connection and understand what you’re trying to teach him. I think our educational system needs a lot of improvement, but if you like kids teaching can be so rewarding.

What's your secret talent?
I have no idea. It’s still a secret to me too. I’m waiting on the big reveal, but so far nothing.

Name 5 Things on your Bucket List
Seeing a few special places is right at the top of my list. I’d love to see the Western part of the US. We went to Arizona once and toured the entire state, but that’s only the beginning. I want to see the Rocky Mountains, tour Los Angeles, see Vegas, and so much, much more.

My second thing is to edit all my unpolished manuscripts and get them out there. I’ve been a prolific writer, and I still have some stuff that I think is really good.

Number three on the bucket list is to buy a place on the beach. My family goes to Garden City Beach every summer, and if we actually had our own place I doubt we’d ever stay at home. Garden City is in South Carolina

I may actually get item number four. I want a garage and a screened in porch. Before Christmas I would have added a fireplace to my list of wants, but at Christmas we got one. Our yard is kind of challenging when it comes to the garage and porch, but we’re working on both.

The last item on my list is something I’m working on right now. I want to learn to be a great baker. I can bake things, I do all the time, but I want to be really good at it. There’s a lot more to it than I ever knew, but I hope that over time I master the art.

Bonus Fun Question:
A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Well, I've gone and done it again. Just when you think your days can't get any worse you lock your keys in your car.

Thanks for sharing with us today. Any final words of wisdom to pass along?
Thanks so much for having me today. My author links are somewhere in this feature so please join me on FB, etc. I’d love stay connected with all of you.


When I saw this book cover, something about it struck me.  Maybe it's the guy laughing into the girl's hair. Or maybe it's that little smirk on her face that just screams troublemaker. Either way, it was enough to make me take a second look at the book and read the blurb.  And I liked what I was reading.  First off, big city to small town can cause all kinds of issues. Throw in a haunted house, starting a new business, remodeling a house, witness protection and on top of that possibly being with the wrong guy? It's just a recipe for disaster. And I couldn't help but giggle with glee and the thought of all the things that could go wrong.

I didn't realize it at the time, but this is a clean read. So nothing that you would be ashamed to share with your grandmother or your granddaughter. There were some over the top moments, but since the story started out in Los Angeles with professional wrestlers, it's kinda of a given that would play a role.  There were some really cheesy moments to be had, like the character reading a book by the author, but it was all in good fun.

This was a quick read that didn't take itself too seriously and had that wink, wink, nudge, nudge feel to it. There were a few moments where I started to roll my eyes, but then the true absurdity of the moment would come through and turn it into a wry smile.  I enjoyed this book and it was a solid 3 star read, giving me an afternoon of enjoyment.

Thanks to Goddess Fish and the author for the opportunity to read this book.


Author Bio:

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina where she obtained a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University. She is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators and Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest. When she’s not writing or teaching, she enjoys movies, quilting, reading, and collecting vintage Christmas ornaments.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/05/review-fortuna-elaine-cantrell.html
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text 2016-04-26 09:00
@GoddessFish Guest Post: Jump Cut by Libby Fischer Hellmann (@libbyhellmann)


Jump Cut


Ellie Foreman Mystery, #5


Libby Fischer Hellmann


Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Date of Publication: March 1, 2016
Number of pages: 286



Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo     OmniLit
Chicago video producer, Ellie Foreman, has been absent from thriller author Libby Fischer Hellmann’s repertoire for almost a decade. Now she’s back...and soon entangled in a web of espionage, murder and suspicion that threatens to destroy what she holds most dear. Hired to produce a candyfloss profile of Chicago-based aviation giant, Delcroft, Ellie is dismayed when company VP Charlotte Hollander, the architect of a new anti-drone system for Delcroft, trashes the production and cancels the project. Ellie believes Hollander was spooked by shots of a specific man in the video footage. But when Ellie arranges to meet the man to find out why, he’s killed by a subway train before they can talk. In the confusion, she finds a seemingly abandoned pack of cigarettes with a flash drive inside that belonged to the now dead man.

Ellie has the drive’s contents decrypted, but before long she discovers she’s under surveillance. Suspecting Delcroft and the ambitious Hollander are behind it, she’s unconvinced when Hollander tells her the dead man was a Chinese spy. Ellie and her boyfriend Luke try to find answers, but they don’t realize how far into the dangerous echelons of hidden power they have ventured. When Ellie’s daughter is kidnapped and Charlotte Hollander disappears, it becomes terrifyingly clear that Ellie is in way over her head, and more lives are on the line, including her own.


The sun winked off the frozen surface of Lake Michigan the next morning as I drove south to McCormick Place. During one of the most brutal Chicago winters in decades, the smudge of purple clouds tinged with pink and gold hinted that the fury of winter might—just might—have peaked. I parked in the overpriced lot, bought half a dozen cups of overpriced coffee, and carried them into the massive exhibit hall.

The crew was setting up lights and shades, and Mac was behind the camera framing shots. MacArthur J. Kendall III owns a production studio in Northbrook. He started out shooting sweet sixteens, bar mitzvahs, and weddings, but parlayed that into corporate videos. We’ve worked together for nearly twenty years, from the days of two-inch video, to one-inch, three-quarter, and now digital.

Mac’s name, salt-and-pepper hair, button-down shirts, and penny loafers scream WASP, but the nasty scar running down his left cheek saves him from total Episcopalian infamy. He tells people he was attacked by a Mexican drug lord and made me swear never to reveal it was from a car accident.

I went up to him. “What do you need me to do?”

“You have the shot list?”

I nodded and pulled it out of the canvas bag that doubles as my purse. We went over it. He gestured to the main area of the Delcroft booth, which featured a large projection screen with the company logo on both sides, and about twenty chairs arranged theater-style.

“What time’s the first presentation?”

Teresa Basso Gold, our client contact, had told us to be prepared for a series of short remarks by Delcroft executives touting the company’s latest innovations.

I checked my watch. Barely six thirty. “The doors don’t open until nine, and Teresa said not to expect anyone until ten. But you can get some establishing shots, if you want.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mac said and strolled over to confer with the crew.

Guest Post: 

Hi. I’m Libby Hellmann, author of the Ellie Foreman Mysteries. JUMP CUT, which was released March 1, is the 5th Ellie mystery, but Ellie has been on an extended vacation since the 4th novel. Make that a 10 year vacation. As you might imagine, she was not pleased. I will say this: when I discovered Ellie in An Eye For Murder (the first book), she seemed to spring fully formed on the page. In fact, it was as if she'd been waiting for me to find her, her daughter, her father, and -- well -- actually, she is insisting on telling you herself. So…. heeeeere’s Ellie!

Hi. I'm Ellie Foreman, a video producer in Chicago. And since many of you probably don’t know me or where I came from, I’d like to use this opportunity to introduce myself to you. Hey… if I left it to Libby, she’d wait another 10 years before doing it.

So here goes.

First, the backstory: I used to work in broadcast news. I was a producer for an investigative unit for a Chicago TV station, a job I loved. But as luck and bad karma would have it, I produced a story about restaurants and health inspectors being paid off (I'm sure you're shocked... shocked to hear that kind of thing happens in Chicago), and I made a teensy weensy mistake. One of the restaurants I mentioned by name turned out NOT to be paying off inspectors. They were paying off other suppliers—perhaps you can guess whom-- but not city health inspectors. Bottom line, I was fired. Which might be why I was sensitive about being fired in Jump Cut. But that’s another story.

After my stint in TV news, I turned to industrial and commercial video production. Luckily, Chicago is one of the country’s biggest markets for that kind of work, and I have survived – more or less.

The “less” being when I discovered my husband sleeping with his associate (He’s a lawyer). In our bedroom. That was the end of our marriage, which needed to end, even if I hadn’t caught him cheating. But it propelled me into single motherhood. My daughter, Rachel, who was twelve at the time, thought she understood. But that didn’t diminish her pain, and, of course, she acted out for a while. Things were kind of dicey. For ten years. But that’s in the past. I think.

Libby discovered me one day when I was picking up Rachel from school in the middle of all this tumul (did I mention I’m Jewish?) Rachel got in the car, glanced over at me, and asked, “Mom… what’s oral sex?”

I still don’t know how Libby overheard us, but she did, and she made that the first sentence in what eventually became An Eye For Murder. Which led to three more novels before Libby said, “Hold on. You need a break.” Which she conveniently gave me. For ten years.

Really, Libby, ten years?

Okay. Now I’m going to tell you something Libby might not want revealed publicly. In fact, I should probably check with her before I tell you, but I am known to be impulsive. So here goes.

Libby had written a police procedural, featuring two male cops before she discovered me. She had an agent who tried to sell the novel, but wasn’t successful. A few months went by, and he called Libby on the phone.

“Libby,” he said (See? I overhear conversations too), “I’ve been having a tough time selling your books.”

“I know,” she replied. “But don’t worry. I’m writing a sequel. And it’s better. And crisper. And the characters are more sharply delineated. And—”

He cut her off. “No. I don’t think you understand. I can’t sell this series. I think you need to change your characters, change your plots, change your voice. And change agents. Because I don’t feel I can represent you anymore.”

Libby was crushed. She cried. And drank a bottle of wine. And when she picked herself off the floor, she had to decide whether to continue with this writing “thing.” Fortunately, she had written a couple of short stories while she was writing novels, and one of them, “The Day Miriam Hirsch Disappeared” won a couple of contests. It was about (ahem) a 16-year-old boy named Jake Foreman, who had a crush on Miriam Hirsch, an actress in the Yiddish Theater. The theater was down in Lawndale, which was once a thriving Jewish neighborhood but became ground zero during the 1968 riots (and still hasn’t completely recovered).

But Miriam only had eyes for Skull, who may or may not have been a gangster. The story takes place in 1938, and its subtext was – well, you’ll have to read it yourself. It’s widely available and very reasonably priced.

Anyway, as I understand it, Libby had one of those “eureka” moments and decided to move the characters in that story 60 years forward in time. Jake was no longer 16 – he was in his ‘70’s. And he now had a daughter. Who is me. And I have a daughter. Who is Rachel. We don’t live in Lawndale anymore; Dad lives in Skokie, and I live in a small village on the North Shore.

So that is where I came from. I’ll leave it to you whether to believe us or not. After all, Libby writes fiction. And I’m just a product of her imagination.

Bottom line: it doesn’t really matter. If you enjoyed this conversation, I’m happy. And to tell the truth, I’m glad she discovered me. And we both hope you’ll try Jump Cut. It’s a pretty awesome story, if I do say so myself.


Author Bio:

Libby Fischer Hellmann left a career in broadcast news in Washington, DC and moved to Chicago 35 years ago, where she, naturally, began to write gritty crime fiction. Twelve novels and twenty short stories later, she claims they’ll take her out of the Windy City feet first. She has been nominated for many awards in the mystery and crime writing community and has even won a few. *

With the addition of Jump Cut in 2016, her novels include the now five-volume Ellie Foreman series, which she describes as a cross between “Desperate Housewives” and “24;” the hard-boiled 4-volume Georgia Davis PI series, and three stand-alone historical thrillers that Libby calls her “Revolution Trilogy.” Her latest release, The Incidental Spy, is a historical novella set during the early years of the Manhattan Project at the U of Chicago. Her short stories have been published in a dozen anthologies, the Saturday Evening Post, and Ed Gorman’s “25 Criminally Good Short Stories” collection.

* She has been a finalist twice for the Anthony, twice for Foreword Magazines Book of the Year, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Daphne and has won the Lovey multiple times.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads

Source: www.musingsandramblings.net/2016/04/guest-post-jump-cut-libby-fischer.html
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